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This was a hectic month as my travel schedule for March (and April) kept changing. In the end, I did 2 work trips (NYC for 2 days, and MV for 2 days) with March Break in the middle. Aside from that, the weekends were also not routine since the beginning of the month saw the end to the previous season’s classes, then there were a couple of weekends around March break that were empty, and the end of the month saw next season’s programmes start.

The weather was in between Winter and Spring. Warmed up, but not warm enough for Spring. I thought we would have another snow storm this year, but maybe that’ll happen in April (or May). The Daylight Saving Time change passed by smoothly since it happened right before March Break and there was a schedule change anyways. Apollo was in camp that week, but had a later start than his usual school.

Easter happened early this year, at the end of the month. Also finished up my taxes this month. Lots of little things happened but nothing seems to have left an impression.


February is usually the coldest month of the winter, and this year I thought it would be especially bad – the weather folks have been saying that this winter would be a tough one. Remember, winter started early and strong so it seemed like February would be extra rough.

Of course, it turned out February was pretty mild. Even the groundhog was fooled. About halfway through the month, the temperatures decided they had enough and fluttered around 0°C. It got even warmer towards the end of the month with highs in the teens (that’s the positive teens). I suspect that winter’s not done. We’ll probably get a snowstorm in April or May.

Chinese New Year synced up with Family Day this year so that was a weekend of busy-ness. It was actually like a mini-Christmas with all the family gatherings. We also did a lot of activities during that weekend to celebrate both Family Day and the New Year (Joyride, CNY at ROM, and Auto Show). CNY actually lasted 3 weeks with events the week before Family Day and some school stuff the week after. Earlier in the month, I had an almost-day trip to NYC for work. Aside from that, the month went by pretty quickly without any major events.


January passed quickly…on this blog. I actually did some work travel this month but it was on a Rouge flight (to Vegas for CES) so there were no movies/inflight entertainment.

January was a juxtaposition in terms of the weather. Half the time it was deep winter (snow and -10°C), and then the other half was mild and almost spring weather. All the snow melted away and I saw people riding their bikes. We had a respite from the winter coughing and colds over the Christmas break, but by the middle of the month, they had returned (guess it took a week to incubate after returning to school).

Katana is standing by herself now and can walk with a walker. She’s on the cusp of walking by herself. This month I spent some time watching Star Trek Discovery, and playing Hearthstone Dungeon runs. Otherwise it was a quiet and normal month.


They warned that this winter would be snowy and they weren’t lying. The last few years we haven’t had a White Christmas, but there was a lot of snow dumped on us this December. We had a couple of snowstorms that promised 5-10cm and 15-20cm, but we saw about 5cm each time. Still, they happened during morning rush hour so it was messy. There was a couple of warm days between them so all the snow melted, but I think we’re going to have snow on the ground for the rest of the winter now. The temperatures are also quite low, reaching -10°C in the day time on several days. All in all, it feels like the middle of February instead of December.

We did our Christmas shopping in December this year, but we didn’t go into the malls at all. A lot of Amazon and other online shopping, as well as Toys R Us for the kids. It wasn’t too hectic in fact, which is great. The kids still ended up with a lot of gifts from various family and friends so I need to shift around the toys (donate some old ones). I didn’t do any Boxing Day shopping. There’s nothing I need to buy and even the clothes stores that I usually buy (online) from (e.g., BR/Gap/Old Navy, A&F, etc) I had scoped out during the Christmas shopping time frame and there wasn’t anything I wanted.

I haven’t travelled in awhile (for work). The last time was in the beginning of November, so it was pretty calm this month. The usual Christmas dinners happened as well as the end of year recaps and clean ups. Here’s to another 12 months of recap blogs in 2018!


This year saw the birth of our third child, a girl named Katana. She arrived in March and has grown past most of the trying and smelly baby stuff. Now she’s crawling and can kind of defend herself and/or steal toys from her brothers. Her looks and development are similar to when Apollo was a baby but in a more girly way (might be the clothes).

The boys play with her sometimes, but they are mostly occupied with themselves as they are now best friends. They play and fight together all the time while we tend to the baby or do other household things. In the beginning of the year, it was all about Paw Patrol (carry over from the year before), but now Apollo has moved on to Pokémon while Jovian loves playing with cars (both Lightning McQueen and the general variety).

With three kids now, we are probably done family building (never say never…). Our house is packed with miscellaneous stuff that a family with kids will have (like toys, random outdoor/sports equipment, etc) and there is a never ending process of churn as the kids grow out of items (clothes, toys) that need to be donated/thrown out, and new stuff comes in (either through gifts or purchases). We can manage for another year or two at our current place without any major changes.

We had one big trip with all 3 kids this year (to Japan) and a bunch of short trips. We managed to travel light on these trips, even though there are always a bunch of items that we have to bring (baby carrier, snacks, emergency diapers, etc). Most of our trips involved museums or theme parks and vacation planning now involves finding activities for the kids, and then slotting in places to eat around that. It’s an evolution of how we travel, and I don’t mind it that much as it keeps everyone happy.

This year I played 3 different games. On mobile, I continued to play Star Trek Timelines and while it is starting to get a little boring, I don’t see myself stopping soon (also I spent about $100 in IAP on it across the year). On desktop, I still play Hearthstone. However, I’m straining under the expansion release schedule (3x a year), and so I’ve dialed back on trying to collect cards in it. In the first half of the year, I also played Heroes of the Storm frequently (a couple of times a week). But then I went on vacation and didn’t keep up with the new heroes release/changes in game play so I just dropped it.

Like Twitter in previous years, I noticed that I spent less time reading social feeds this year. This year’s casualty was Facebook. I used to check it several times a day but now I might even go through a day without opening the app. I think a big reason for this is because the News Feed has too much stuff that I don’t care about (maybe an acquaintance liked something and it showed up on my feed). Toward the end of the year, I am feeling the same thing about Instagram (especially because they inserted a big recommended photos/videos section into the feed).

I had similar amounts of work travel this year as last year, except for a big break between Feb – Jun where I hardly did any traveling due to Katana’s birth. A change this year was that I consolidated my flights and loyalty plans and used Air Canada as much as possible (previously I flew whatever was available and collected United points). Even though I missed a couple of Korea trips, I made it to Altitude 35k for the first time, so next year I will have status with Air Canada! One of the reasons for work travel was to go to a bunch of conferences. I attended 4 this year, including CES and Google I/O (first time at both). I also went to the Samsung Developer Conference (first time) and FITC (which was local in Toronto).

I don’t think I did any development this year at work, although I still did technical stuff (product-related work, management and a little housekeeping here and there). My career is also in a transition stage as this is the second year where I have been mostly removed from writing code. This year I spent time on other disciplines like design and strategy, but I guess I need to decide which direction I should go for the next rung of the career ladder soon.

Our “old” friends (e.g., pre-kid friends) have started to collect enough kids now that we are finally having kid-based gatherings. That’s good news for us since we have common topics and can hang out with them again (instead of passing on clubbing or karaoke). Still waiting and wondering on a couple of friends as to whether they will have kids now.

Every year when I write my yearly recap, I have difficulty weaving the thoughts and points into a story. Is the recap supposed to itemize the major things that happen this year? Or is it more about the mindset? The way I look at it is if I come back in 10 years and read the recap, will I have a good sense of how I was feeling in this year? That’s difficult to capture because who knows what ends up being important.

I’ve given this some thought over the last month, and I suspect that what will be important is that 2017 will be seen as an inflection point year. If we backtrack 5 years or so, I knew we were about to have kids so there was a plan on how that would work out (budgeting etc). Now we have 3 kids and, especially because the older two are school age, I believe that my life will be changing so that it is more routine (on a macro level, on a micro level it will probably be chaotic) and household oriented. So while 2016 felt like a waffling continuation of the previous stage of my life, I think 2017 is the end and 2018 will be the start of a different way of living. Interestingly enough, what this was an independent thought, it reminded me of my previous blog about age milestones. So we shall see what the next group of years will be like.


Another year, another bunch of trips:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Sunnyvale, CA, USA
  • Boston, MA, USA
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Erie, PA, USA
  • Grove City, PA, USA

Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14), 2016 (11),


This year I started getting tired of KPop. The music started sounding the same so I didn’t stay up to date with it that much, nor did we listen to it much in the car. Instead, we went back to listening to top40 radio. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and there were some good songs in the first half the year. The last quarter of the year, surprisingly, was a clunker where most of the new songs were pretty bad.

One interesting thing about the list this year is that all the songs are pretty close together. If I had to rank them, it might go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and then a 10 way tie for #6.

  1. Charlie Puth – Attention

    Ever since I discovered Charlie Puth, I’ve paid attention to his singles. His style of music currently lines up with the pop music I want to hear. Attention was released around April, and I’ve been waiting for his second album to be released, but apparently it won’t hit the streets till 2018! He released a second single towards the end of the year which is decent, but not as great as Attention. This song has a great hook and it is #1 because this is the style of pop I love listening to.

  2. 종현 (Jonghyun) ft 태연 (Taeyeon) – Lonely

    Taeyeon and Jonghyun had a good duet a couple of years ago, and this one is a continuation of that partnership. The song is decent and finally we get a Taeyeon ballad! It was tough ranking this song at #2, but what made it better than the rest is because this is a piano ballad and Taeyeon’s singing.

  3. 볼빨간사춘기 (Bolppalgan Puberty) – 나만 안되는 연애 (Hard To Love)

    Bolppalgan Puberty (now goes by Bolppalgan4 which is slightly easier to remember I suppose) was a chance discovery this year, and I’m glad I found them. This is the first song I heard by them and it instantly caught my attention because of the sound of the lead singer. They’re not your typical KPop (in fact I don’t even find them attractive) but the entire album is great (although not to the calibre of the two songs here or Freesia).

  4. 볼빨간사춘기 (Bolppalgan Puberty) – 우주를 줄게 (Galaxy)

    Like Taeyeon’s Why and Starlight, both this song and Hard To Love are really hard to separate in terms of greatness. They are quite different in style as Galaxy is more upbeat and Hard To Love is a ballad and more soulful; but I don’t think Galaxy will have as much longevity and impact because it is not a ballad, and yet isn’t dance-y enough. That is not to take away from how good this song is still though – this track was the 2017 song of the year at the Korean Music Awards (not fan voted).

  5. Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migios – Slide

    It’s tragic that there was no video for this song but I wonder if it’s because the label didn’t want to make one or one of the artists didn’t? This song played for a little while on the radio and then went away, and it’s too bad. The beat is catchy, Frank Ocean sings well and makes me want to listen to more of his music, and Migios has a great hook. This an Passionfruit were two standout Hip Hop tracks for me this year, when I don’t enjoy listening to Hip Hop.

  6. Julia Michaels – Issues

    I have a feeling Julia Michaels is going to be a one-hit wonder, and she’ll go back to writing great songs for other artists. This song works because there is a movement in pop to a stripped down sound, and this is a great example of that style.

  7. Drake – Passionfruit

    Well, it looks like this song doesn’t have a video, and there are no performances or etc on YouTube. I guess Drake has a (not a) thing for posting things online, as the last video on his channel is Hotline Bling. So you’ll have to live with this cover. There are very few Drake songs I like because I don’t like the way he raps or the instrumentation in his songs. Passionfruit is an exception because of the driving beat and I guess because his singing is less soulful.

  8. Bruno Mars – Versace On The Dancefloor

    Bruno Mars has three great hits on his latest album, and unfortunately this is the one that didn’t get a lot of radio play. I wouldn’t say this is the best, as all three tracks had their merits. However, Versace On The Dancefloor is another recent song that channels the 80s/Michael Jackson era (see The Weeknd). If this song saw as much play as I Feel It Coming, it might be just as popular. It is a worthy ballad.

  9. 수지 (Suzy) – 취향 (Les Préférences)

    Suzy released an EP but this wasn’t the single. However, I discovered this song when I listened to her problems for that EP – and it’s actually better than everything else on the EP (or more fitting to the style of music I like).

  10. 태연 (Taeyeon) – I Got Love

    Taeyeon release an album, and then a month later released a deluxe version. Fortunately, I waited until the deluxe edition is out to buy. I’m not a fan of the genre of music that is on the album – not a lot of ballads, but a bunch of throwaway dance and easy rock songs. This song is one of singles and has a catchy and unique beat. Like Versace On The Dancefloor, the video is too distracting and takes away from the song.

  11. IU ft G-Dragon – Palette

    IU released two albums this year. One was a sequel to her remake album (more remakes) and one had original material. Palette was the single off of the latter. Both albums were OK, as I am a fan of her songs. Nothing was as super-catchy as 23. The live promo choreography of this song is unique in that it uses 80s style – the generation I grew up in is finally retro!

  12. Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Big Sean – Feels

    Crazy all-star cast for this song which is kind of a departure for everyone. But I guess they banked that this would be a hit single – and it certainly feels like it. Katy Perry is unrecognizable until I heard mention of her name in the credits. Pharrell sounds typical. Big Sean has a retro beat for his rap that sounds like it was C+P from a Puff Daddy era song. And Calvin Harris. I’m not sure what he gets credit for? I guess for pulling everyone together.

  13. 소녀시대 (Girls Generation) – All Night

    The last (?) Girls Generation album came out this year and it was a clunker. All of the songs were unremarkable and forgettable except for this one, which has a great stuttering hook. With 3 members not signed to a contract, everyone approaching their 30s, and basically every member having a try at a solo career. I think this is it for SNSD and it sub-units.

  14. Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

    This song and 24K Magic are prototypical Bruno Mars songs/hits. It’s catchy, and a great pop song. Nothing much to say except the formula works for him.

  15. Niall Horan – Slow Hands

    I’m not a big fan of Niall, 1D, or any of the other members’s songs. But Niall had a good song with This Town and this one is even better. Great pop song, but probably will be forever stuck in 2017.

  16. Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You

    Song came out early in 2017 (I think it was part of last year’s Grammy’s) and I’m kind of tired of listening to it (I even blogged about it). But it should remain a top Ed Sheeran song in my books.

  17. Taylor Swift – Ready For It

    I think Taylor Swift is the top female singer in pop today but I’m not a huge fan of her. She had a couple of releases this year and the last one is the best. However, I feel like she released half of this song previously as Wildest Dream. This was the one song in the last part of the year that I liked.

  18. 윤아 (Yoona) – 바람이 불면 (When The Wind Blows)

    With SNSD breaking up on hiatus, I think Yoona’s angle is to start a solo career in China. She had a Chinese EP last year and this song was a dual Mandarin/Korean release. I think she’s an underrated singer and if she gets a decent and fitting song, then it’ll do well. This song is not a hitmaker, but it is OK and she carries it fine. In fact, this song kind of reminds me of Taeyeon’s 11:11.


I started November with a quick trip to Dallas. Dallas is a difficult destination to get to from Toronto because there’s only a couple of non-stop flights each day, and most of them don’t really fit with working hours – meaning I have to spend an extra day or night there. In any case, it was a pure work trip where I was just at the hotel or the office. That was good because it was 30°C+ there (new November record for them).

After that, the main thing on my mind was trying to get organized for Christmas seeing as December is usually full with events. We also planned to go to the US during American Thanksgiving to take advantage of Black Friday, so we had to plan that as well. We ended up driving to Pittsburgh to visit the Children’s Museum and Carnegie Science Center (both free due to reciprocal admission). We did stop for some shopping but didn’t really do a lot or take advantage of Black Friday deals.

The weather has been surprisingly cold for November. There was some snow and the kids had to wear snowpants to school for a couple of days. Aside from that, it was the usual classes and what not during the month.


October was a very busy but exciting month. As you might recall, I ended September with a trip to Korea for work. When October started, I flew out again along with the rest of our family to Japan for vacation. This meant that I had a ping pong trip where I was in Asia, back home for two days, then in Asia again (well I didn’t plan it that way, but when we booked vacation I didn’t know I had to goto Korea yet).

Our trip to Japan was our big family vacation for this year. Fortunately we didn’t have to take our vacation in the summer this year, and could choose a more convenient time to go. We decided to go and celebrate Apollo’s birthday abroad in addition to our vacation – and ended up at Disneyland on the actual day (we had planned to go a day earlier, but rain forced us to delay it). We also did lots of Japan-y stuff that you might expect, and introduced all 3 kids to the culture (previously, only Apollo had been there).

After we came back. I had a few more days, and then flew out to San Francisco for a conference. Counting from September, I was basically away from home for 4 weeks. After that trip, I finally had some time at home but it wasn’t very calm because we basically had to catch up and plan for everything that we couldn’t do while we were traveling. Most importantly, Hallowe’en was quickly approaching.

We missed one weekend which had a lot of Hallowe’en stuff, and was only able to do some things on the last weekend of October. We wanted to go to Camp Spooky at Wonderland, but the day we planned to go ended up being rained out, and we went to Brick Or Treat at Legoland instead (wasn’t overly decorated for Hallowe’en). That meant our Wonderland seasons pass expired with a whimper (we didn’t use it past August) but we ended up buying a Legoland pass for the next year. At the end of the month, we had five memberships going on at the same time – that seems like a bit too much!


We started this month by taking one last road trip in the summer, and across the border to Rochester to visit the Museum of Play and some shopping. This is the third time/year that we’ve went so we also decided to spring for a membership. It takes 3 visits (days) to make the pass worth it, and we already did two days on this trip. So one more visit and we’ll be in the black! By going “later” in the year, it gives us a lot of time to plan a trip next spring or summer.

Apollo started his fourth new school in as many years this year and with that a new route/timetable for dropoff. His school starts earlier than last year so we’ve moved up his sleep schedule to accommodate, and surprisingly the night and morning adjustments have been pretty straightforward. Jovian also started a new school, and it actually feels like a regression because he’s only in his nursery school three days in a week! Fall programs had the first two weeks off (I guess to give everyone time to adjust to the day school routine first) but they kicked off in the latter half of the month.

After an August that felt like fall, we had nice weather (including a couple of days of Indian Summer) during September. Most days were t-shirts and pants, with an optional coat in the morning. Leaves are starting to turn yellow, which feels a bit early, but we’ve already gone Apple picking and farm season is most likely finished for us this year (unless we have a pumpkin trip in October, but I doubt it).

To cap off the month, I went over to Korea for a week. It’s only my second visit this year due to Katana being born and some other weird scheduling/cancellations.


Summer passed by really quickly this year, especially because we didn’t really take a vacation (ok we were in Boston for a few days at the beginning, but that was short). I felt like we didn’t end up doing much because we mostly stayed in the city and didn’t do many road trips. I guess we spent a lot of the time at run-of-the-mill festivals around the city, and went to Wonderland every other week (probably up to 8 trips this year).

But with the end of the month, we’re winding down and getting ready for the school year again. Yet again, both boys are starting new schools which means new routines and schedules. In fact, August was a new schedule too as Jovian stopped going to daycare and went to camp with Apollo (different class though). At least Katana didn’t have much change. She’s still starting on solids (cereal) and hasn’t graduated to other fruits and mashed foods yet. She’s more mobile now (rolling and rotating), but hasn’t figured out how to crawl yet.

The weather started getting colder halfway through the month (kids had to wear long sleeves to school) and it looks like things might stay that way. I was expecting to do some work travel this month, but the trips got cancelled/moved. However, I did end up dealing with a HDD crash at the end of the month and restoring all my data from backups/broken drive.


We started off summer with a quick vacation down to Boston. We had been debating where to go for the Canada Day/July 4th long weekend for a long time now. I did want to goto Ottawa at some point this year, but it would probably have been too crazy with the 150th birthday and 3 kids. So we decided to goto Boston for a few days. This ended up being Katana’s first bus, subway, boat, airplane and train ride of her life – much like how Apollo went through the same thing when he was about 6 months old.

We did the usual summer stuff in July. No programs so Saturday and Sunday mornings were free. We did a couple of trips to Wonderland and started going to farms at the end of the month. I flew down to NYC for a couple of days closer to the end of the month as well. After weird weather in previous months, the weather has been like you would expect in summer.

Katana is more than 4 months old now so she started eating solids. The first week was a mess, but once she got the hang of swallowing, it’s a breeze to feed her (10-15 mins max). She can also roll over both ways and has a lot of fun with toys. But I think her favorite activity is still to play with her brothers!


Well the last blog I made was the recap for May, and now it is June. I guess I didn’t blog at all in June.

It wasn’t all that busy, but I didn’t do anything noteworthy like travel though (so no chance to watch movies or anything). I did play some Hearthstone so is it surprising that I didn’t blog about it this month? Maybe I got stuck on a boss and couldn’t blog my progress? Nah, it was because I wasn’t playing PvE at all. Blizzard changed its rules and you can now finish quests against “friends” so I basically spent time to complete all my quests. I’m glad there’s a new way to accumulate gold but it’s still very difficult to get Epics and Legendaries.

June saw the wrap up of existing extra curricular programs and the school year. We started transitioning to summer schedule and new programs. My mom was in Vancouver for a family reunion for two weeks and we started skating again (once summer started??). We also started planning for a couple of vacations in the summer and later this year.

There was a lot of rain in June, which was unexpected and not normal. Lots of summer thunderstorms and just general overcast and cloudy weather. The temperature was warm enough for shorts for a couple of days, but it was back to long sleeves and long pants by the end of the month!


May finished really quickly. That means that Katana is almost 3 months old! She can now “chat” with us and turn her head to look around at all sorts of interesting things. Still sleeps a lot though. May ending means that June is on us, which means summer vacation is only one month away! Where the school year go?

I traveled down to Mountain View this month for work, although it wasn’t directly for work as I went to Google I/O instead. I’ve tried to get tickets for a few years but this year I was finally picked! It was interesting to visit and hear about all the new Google stuff that’s released this year. If I didn’t go to Google I/O, I would have gone to Korea instead, but fortunately they happened on the same week so I didn’t have to travel for half the month.

California was hot the last day I was there (30°C) and so was Toronto, but the rest of the month was mostly rain. The trees have budded and most are full with leaves, yet the rain keeps on coming. The Toronto Islands and some parts inland are flooding due to the accumulation of water – I don’t think you’re allowed to go to Centre Island until July at the earliest!

While we didn’t get a lot of time to go out and walk around in the neighborhood after dinner, we’ve started doing more outdoor activities and packing the weekend. This month we went to Wonderland for the first time this year, Doors Open, and the York Region Police picnic.


We started April by celebrating Katana’s full moon at our usual restaurant with family. Katana’s first month was uneventful but she seemed to be bigger than her brothers were at their full moon. She’s continued growing well through April and has been visiting parks and shops with the family.

I also went on my first work trip since Katana was born, going down to Dallas for a few nights. Dallas is pretty boring. I also went to a conference this month – FITC (Futurists, Innovators, Technologists, Creatives). This was mostly because 1) it was held in Toronto, and 2) work was the title sponsor so I was able to get a free ticket. It wasn’t the biggest conference I’ve ever been to, nor the smallest. The talks ranged from mediocre to interesting so overall it was pretty middle of the road. I did have to commute downtown for 2 days to attend though, so that was a retro experience.

The weather is nice now and we’ve been going biking (and park) every weekend. Apollo can ride by himself, although he still can’t use the brake properly and needs some motivation to ride without stopping (i.e., someone to chase). Jovian can spin his feet, but doesn’t have enough strength to really push himself on his tricycle yet. April also saw the beginning of a new set of extracurricular classes (for Apollo). This time it’s basketball, swimming and science classes.

I unpacked the patio furniture that was stored over the winter. Winter was not kind to it. Nor is the weather warm enough to really use it (it’s nice that it’s not winter – but not nice enough to sit around outdoors). Hopefully it will be near summer weather in May.


March was exciting because we welcomed a new addition to our family – no not a pet or a new car, but a sister for our two boys! Katana was a little late but she was born healthy and everyone is happy. As you might expect, most of the month was spent taking care of our new baby and everyone getting used to her being around the house now. The brothers seemed to have adjusted well and we’re starting to get into a routine again.

Last month was warm and March was pretty warm to start. But Winter reared its ugly head for one more week – ironically during March Break – and everyone was back in snowboots and sweaters. By the end of the month though, the weather was solidly in the positives. There were even some long days of rain, so Spring is here!

No travel this month due to the baby being born so it was relatively calm. I also tried out a lot of games on mobile since, for a large part of the month, I was just holding Katana while she was asleep.


Nothing much happened in February except that it became…Spring? Well that is strange. About halfway through the month, the weather got warm – several days in the teens, all the snow melted, and then it stayed that way until the end of the month. Will it last into March or will we see a return of winter? Who knows! Except maybe the groundhog who predicted that Spring would come early this year.

This month we also organized and signed up for what the kids have to do for March break and the summer. Summer seems really far away, but at least it is all done.

I played a lot of Hearthstone this month because they had a week and a half where you could complete quests while playing against a “friend”. I ended up playing a lot against my alt account and earned a lot of gold. That was very helpful because the next expansion was just announced and I don’t have nearly enough of the cards from the current expansion yet!


I started January with a lot of travelling. First, I went to Las Vegas to attend CES for the first time! That was exciting, but I only ended up breezing through the trade floor once, and didn’t attend any of the talks at all – it was all work meetings! Plus I was originally planning to go for 4 days to have time for the conference and maybe go to some buffets or shows, but I had to readjust my travel schedule and was only there for 1 night…because…

My trip to Korea that was original scheduled for last December was rescheduled for the week immediately after CES. So I cut short my stay, returned home for the weekend, and flew out again on Monday for the week. This was my first time in Korea in the winter, and it’s pretty boring. I had some time on my last day to go around but it started snowing a little, my running shoes were slippery, and I didn’t want the trip to the airport to be stuck in traffic; so I didn’t do much.

After that, January passed by quickly and was pretty calm. The weather warmed up significantly in January – no real snowfall and temperatures above freezing most days. There was more rain than snow in the month.


I tried to make December simple by doing all the Christmas shopping beforehand, but it turned out that it wasn’t simple at all! This year, Christmas was on the weekend so school went right up to Friday beforehand – and I was scheduled to fly out to Korea for a work trip that week. I would return back home the day before Christmas Eve, but miss out on the last week where we have to hand out gifts to teachers & etc. That meant that I had one less week to prepare everything and had to make sure all the gifts were organized, and cards written (by the kids, which takes a lot longer).

Next, the weather was really cold (-10 every morning + wind chill) so it was a pain to actually get the kids to school (at least they weren’t allowed to play outside). There was also one week which started with a winter storm (10cm) that dropped on a Sunday night. The main roads were clear for rush hour, but not the side streets. Then on the Thursday of that week, there was a surprise blizzard (how does the weather forecast miss this stuff) that dropped another 10cm right before evening rush hour (at least I was able to pick up the kids). Finally there was supposed to be another 10cm on the weekend, but that only ended up being about 2cm. In any case that was a lot of snow to shovel and guarantees a White Christmas.

The week after that, a stomach virus started making the rounds. First Jovian got it, then 5 days later (long incubation!), I got it. Apollo followed a day after me, and then Pauline got it 2-3 days after him. That almost overlapped with Christmas! Both Jovian and Apollo stayed home or had to picked up earlier a couple of times which made the scheduling hectic. At least through all this, my Korea trip got cancelled/postponed, so I was able to take care of the kids.

When the holidays hit, it started getting warmer. We did our usual dinners and family stuff. It was actually pretty light because I took the week between Xmas and New Years off and there weren’t THAT many dinners, so we did a lot of cleaning up around the house. Did some minor Boxing Day shopping (online) and then welcomed in the new year at home.


2016 is now over, yet whenever I see or write 2016, that number still has the “new year” feel to me. Usually that feeling only lasts a few months, but it feels really odd this year. I’m not stuck in 2015 though, seeing the year 2015 makes it feel like a while ago.


Late-night snack at the SLS Las Vegas in January

It’s not like 2016 was forgettable, there was a lot of stuff that happened. This was the year that…

  • Apollo started Junior Kindergarten (i.e., real school)
  • Traveled 4 times overseas for work
  • The Leafs got the #1 pick in the draft and picked their franchise 1C – Auston Matthews
  • Both kids are big into Paw Patrol and Lego/Duplo
  • Everyone had to re-adjust sleep and wake up schedules and figure out drop-off/pick-up routines – welcome to the next 15 years
  • Vacationed to Disney World, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sesame Place
  • Donald Trump got elected as the President of the US

Chinese New Year display at chinese school

One thing that did change this year was that I did a lot less development work. On the work side, my role has shifted and I’ve been spending more time on product/strategy/management and much less writing code. I probably only had a couple bursts of code writing this year, probably amounting to less than 2 months of the year. On the personal/hobby side, it was almost non-existent. I guess it was a combination of 1) nothing piqued my interest enough to build, 2) It’s too difficult to get mindshare even if you build something. I wonder if the dip in writing code is going to be a trend or just a blip this year?


Atop Twin Peaks in San Francisco in February

My work travel shifted this year. I rarely went to NYC (only twice, and in the same month) or Silicon Valley (only once). Instead, I went to Dallas once and Korea 4 times. The Asia trips eat up a lot of time (usually spend 2-3 days flying and 3 days at work) and I didn’t even gain status with an airline from it! I would have been fine with fewer trips overseas as it’s always to the same destination and you don’t get a lot of freedom when travelling for work. It was also difficult to organize the household when I’m travelling and Pauline’s back at work, so I want to do that less. At the same time, it’s almost at a point where the amount of travel will dictate my career path.


Sharing a book in Rochester

While I was travelling, one thing that kept coming up in my mind is that there a lot of parents with only a single child; and they are doting on them incessantly or being overwhelmed even as both parents handle a single child. Now that Jovian is older, I have more perspective with looking after two children at once. It’s another ballgame with more than one, but not because it is a lot of work. It’s a different experience for both the child and the parents when there is only a single child, the parents have more opportunity and ability to focus on them.


With Cars in Orlando

Both kids are older and more independent. Jovian has progressed to a point where he can play constructively with Apollo (instead of just pushing or taking things from him) and its heartening to see the brothers interact. While Jovian still takes advantage of Apollo, Apollo is genuinely willing to take care of Jovian. Both kids are now in school or daycare 5 days a week so they don’t spend a lot of time at home, and we’ve gotten used to doing dropoffs and pickups (welcome to the next 15 years).


Joking with Aladdin and Jasmine at Disney

Apollo is at a point where milestones are difficult to recognize and there are multiple tracks of learning between school, friends and family. He knows a little bit of math (no division), can struggle through reading (sight words and basic phonics) and is starting to draw recognizable scenes. We’ve spent less time with Jovian on the basics than we did with Apollo, but he seems to be doing OK – recognizes the alphabet, sings a lot of songs, and is a regular motormouth.


Having brunch with Winnie the Pooh & gang

This year, my life felt like a 80/20 scenario where 80% of the time, it’s driven by logistics around the kids. Then 20% of the time I’m travelling and it’s all about work. Now that the boys are older, I think they should be more independent and less clingy, but I feel the opposite is actually true.


Jovian’s happy that he has cake on his birthday

Since they are older, they are in less confined/controlled environments and can end up in more circumstances where they actively need our help (i.e., being sick, need to get to a program). One example of this is having to get them to school on time every day. A lot of time is spent figuring this out, and I don’t think it’s going to get any easier in the next couple of years.


Eating dinner with Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street friends

Star Trek Timelines was my go-to game for the entire year as it was on mobile and pushed my OCD buttons. I also spent time playing Blizzard games (Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and even a little bit of WoW to complete a quest). I tried a variety of other mobile games and board games on mobile, but nothing else really stuck. I powered up the XBOX360 later in the year to introduce Apollo to some video games.


Down at the harbourfront

It is between spending time on all the little things associated to kids, and existing hobbies like games, that I felt like I didn’t pick up any new hobbies or new experiences. It’s not that I was bored, just that on the year end reflection, it’s hard to identify what was unique about this year. In the past, the unique thing(s) would be travel but this year’s travel was “on rails” (for work) or to destinations that were of interest to the kids. What defines a year will continue to shift in future years to be more kid-oriented, but perhaps this was the year where I have self-consciously hit the inflection point.


On top of the Thomson Hotel

We got together with friends less this year. One reason is because a lot of us have kids now and it’s difficult to do large gatherings or events because they have to be kid friendly and have enough room for friends, partners, kids, etc. That’s tough to organize. Then we have to take into account schedules. Not just whether someone is busy, but when their kids’ programs or naps begin and end. That means a lot less of going to a person’s house and even going out to eat.


Fall & Hallowe’en in a single picture

We still see Apollo’s friends a bit, although not as much as before. Jovian doesn’t have his own circle of friends yet. Between these 2 group of friends, and our own adult friends, I was hoping to ensure that we have a meal with at least one family/set of friends every week. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution but just a general goal. I think I achieved this about half the time, but it’s difficult to juggle schedules and plan.


Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

At the end of the year, I had a couple of days to spend with Apollo because he was at home sick. Physically, he’s four – but when he is away from other kids, he looks older. And he’s at an age where he not only remembers what happens but why things are happening. I think the trend next year will continue to be focused on kids, and how to bring them up “in the right way”; but Apollo has sufficient life experience, communicative capability, and personal desires that he can see me as a role model and a friend, in addition to his parent. It makes our interactions more important and meaningful, and I hope that I can be more of a mentor than a parent to him.


Apollo loves Santa, but Jovian is still a little wary

This year I travelled to a bunch of different places for work, and did a bunch of road trips. Next year, I suspect the trips will be fewer:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA
  • Mountain View, CA, USA
  • Orlando, FL, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • Scranton, PA, USA
  • Langhorne, PA, USA
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA

Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14),


This year’s music listening consisted of new music from artists that I enjoy, and a smattering of top KPop and western Top40. At home, I had my usual iTunes music and we used a custom Spotify playlist in the kitchen. In the car, I burned KPop CDs but started listening to a bit of radio towards the end of the year as I didn’t keep up with new KPop releases as much and the music started getting stale. I noticed and am glad that Top40 has shifted to be more house and jungle oriented rather than Hip Hop.

Here’s my list for the year:

  1. 태연 (Taeyeon) – 제주도의 푸른 밤 (The Blue Night of Jeju)

    The Blue Night of Jeju is a cover of, I guess, a classic Korean song (many other Korean artists have covers) and it’s my favorite song from this year for a number of reasons:

    1. It’s by my favorite singer
    2. It’s in the sweet spot of her register
    3. The song and this particular arrangement is catchy
    4. Taeyeon’s music doesn’t typically have guitars so this is unique

    The only problem I have is that I can’t find a place to buy it. I believe it’s only digital, and I have to sign up for a Korean service (melOn) to download it. I’m almost at a stage where I’m going to do that!

  2. 아이유 (IU) – 스물셋 (Twenty Three)

    Pulling an “Adele”, IU wrote a song about her age. I don’t understand it because it’s in Korean, but it’s got a catchy hook. I bought the rest of this album, and this is heads and shoulders above the rest of the tracks; mostly because it’s a pop song, rather than in the style of her more recent albums (i.e., Red Shoes)
  3. Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

    This song has a great hook (and not much else beyond that), but that’s enough to make it a great pop song. It’s funny that Selena Gomez collaborated on this song because in a way it’s a lot like her songs – the same words repeated over and over again.
  4. 태연 (Taeyeon) with Dean – Starlight

    Taeyeon’s solo singles are typically in the R&B or soft rock genre, which is not a type of music I enjoy too much. This song is typical of those genres, there is no strong melody or beat, nor is it super catchy or showcase her voice (in fact I feel it’s mostly Dean’s song). However, like Rain, it portrays a feeling and so the song grew on me. I like the video as well.
  5. 태연 (Taeyeon) – Why

    When I heard about the title track from Taeyeon’s second EP, I was a bit disappointed because I thought it would be in a similar vein to I. However, when the song finally came out, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty catchy – it’s a dance track rather than R&B. I think this would be the song that epitomizes 2016 summer for me.

    I didn’t like the original video for this song, but the dance version is great. The choreography reminds of Michael Jackson dancing!

    It’s tough to pick the better song between this and Starlight from Taeyeon’s second EP. I like Why more right now, but I think Starlight will have more longevity – hence the ranking.

  6. Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – This Is What You Came For

    This song is good almost entirely due to Rihanna’s scat-ing, which I find funny because when Rihanna started out, I thought she was a weak singer with a small range.
  7. Justin Bieber – Lose Yourself

    This is one of the first songs that I noticed that started having the stripped down approach to songwriting. It’s not really acoustic, just that there is not a lot of instrumentation and it is focused on singing. I think it has aged pretty well since I heard it in early 2016.
  8. 티파니 (Tiffany) – Once In A Lifetime

    Tiffany had her solo debut album this year, and while I didn’t like her two singles, I thought this track was the standout track. I’m not sure if it’s worth buying the entire album though.
  9. The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming

    This song is so new that there isn’t a music video or even a good audio-only version of this song on YouTube. I didn’t like the first Daft Punk x Weeknd collaboration that much (see below), but when I first heard this song, I knew it would be great. It just sounds like Daft Punk, and their cameo in the bridge is perfect. What I missed is that The Weeknd is doing his Michael Jackson imitation, but when the radio mentioned that, it clicked and made a lot of sense. Because it’s so new, I’m afraid that it might not have that much longevity, otherwise it would have ranked higher.
  10. Just Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

    This is a happy song from a movie soundtrack – sounds like it’s repeating the success of Pharrel William’s Happy from 2013! Great pop song for this year, but I don’t think it’s going to have a lot of longevity.
  11. 세븐틴 (SEVENTEEN) and 에일리 (Ailee) – Q&A

    This is one of the only KPop songs which isn’t by artists that I like. In fact it almost doesn’t matter who sings it, the song is catchy and the singers are stepping over each other which makes it sound complex.
  12. 윤아 (Yoona) with 10cm – 덕수궁 돌담길의 봄 (Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway)

    This is a standard pop duet with a catchy hook. I think Yoona’s voice is under-rated (given that she is supposed to be the face of SNSD) but she’s trying to hard in this video.
  13. Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

    I guess Bruno is creating a new niche for himself now that hip hop & R&B are dying on top40. Instead of house or becoming a singer/songwriter, he’s continuing his Uptown Funk trend and becoming the leading funk singer of the ’10s. This song is really good when you first hear it, because every part of it is something different. But it falls off a cliff pretty quick once you hear it often. All the unique elements become regular.
  14. 태연 (Taeyeon) – Rain

    This song is an earworm for me but overall I didn’t enjoy it that much (again because it’s R&B/soft rock).
  15. The Weeknd ft Daft Punk – Star Boy

    The Weeknd and Daft Punk, two of my favorite musical artists collaborating on a track. This is going to be awesome! Well it turns out that it wasn’t that great. It’s not a turd, but the beat wasn’t as catchy as other Daft Punk tracks and The Weeknd doesn’t singing is not as melodic as it could be (although I noticed that most of The Weeknd’s singles don’t really involve singing like his early works).
  16. Selena Gomez – Hands To Myself

    I got Selena Gomez’ album for free last year as part of a Microsoft Groove promotion, but didn’t really listen to it (only listened to Same Old Love). Then I heard this song on the radio and added it to my playlist. The song is actually not noteworthy, except one line in the bridge that makes it worth it.

Typically I try and get ready for Christmas and the new year in November, that means doing all of our Christmas shopping before Black Friday (because the 2 day holiday gives us a long weekend to travel) and getting my year-end blogs ready. This year, I didn’t really get much of that accomplished in that order, but I think it’ll still be OK in the end.

We didn’t plan a trip over American Thanksgiving because Pauline is back at work now. However, I did end up travelling to NYC and staying overnight, except that happened as 2 separate trips to NYC (one overnight, and one day trip). Both were for work and because of the compressed schedule, I didn’t have much time aside from work. Surprisingly, I hadn’t been to New York for more than a year before these trips!

We ended up doing the majority of our Christmas shopping around Black Friday. There are still a couple of outliers but hopefully we can avoid the malls next month. We didn’t actually score much on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but most of the purchases were strategic to check off our Christmas list.

We didn’t go see any Santa Claus parades this year, but we put up the Christmas tree for the first time in a few years. The kids actually understand what it means now so it’s worthwhile – plus putting it up early means it’ll be around for almost 2 months.

The kids’ fall programs have begun finishing so we’ll have to find some more things for them to do during the next month. But overall, December looks to be calm and not as hectic since we did a lot of preparations in November. Hope it actually turns out that way!


Oops, it’s now well into November and I just remembered that I didn’t post a recap for October! Well here’s my recollection (which to be honest isn’t much different than trying to remember what we did in the month during the last week of the month).

I felt that this October was cold and the kids were in a flux of trying to wear their fall jackets, but layering a sweater under. Eventually halfway through the month, I gave up and just brought out their winter jackets. Luckily, the one weekend/day that we had to spend some time outside was decently warm – I’m talking about Hallowe’en of course. They were able to wear a sweater under their costumes and run around!

This year, we didn’t go to as many Hallowe’en events as before. Apollo was a lion (again) and Superman and Jovian was Elmo and a snowman. They both had a couple of other costumes which they didn’t get a chance to wear. Apollo is at an age where he enjoys Hallowe’en, but Jovian is scared of all things (skeletons, Frankenstein, spiders, witches, etc)

While looking around for Hallowe’en stuff in early October, I noticed they already had Christmas stuff in the stores! That’s pretty early – I wish we could be all prepared for Christmas already, but that’s still 2 months away.


September was tough. Just like last September, we had to start a new routine as a new school year started. Apollo went to a new school with a new schedule (5 days a week this time) and Jovian continued his daycare routine from August (also 5 days a week). Both kids are gone 5 days a week because Pauline is back at work now which means there’s less flexibility in the time. We also have a number of weekday evening programs and weekend programs (weekend programs aren’t that big of a deal yet). The time compression is the largest hurdle to overcome and I don’t think we’re settled in a routine yet – every day feels different, which is what is making it tough.

To make matters worse, I was gone for a week in September on a trip to Korea – meaning we had to involve the grandparents for school pickup/drop off. Oh and to make matters worse x 2, Jovian was hospitalized for a couple of nights before my trip so even if we had some semblance of routine, that got completely blow up in the middle of the month. Hopefully we can settle down in October!

The weather got cold quickly, and it’s actually in this inconvenient state where it is too cold for fall jackets (i.e., windbreakers) in the morning (for the kids) but not cold enough to actually wear winter-ish jackets. The AC was still running in our house most of the month though, but we finally switched to windows by the end of the month. I have a feeling that we’re not going to have many days of window weather this fall.